Skip to main content

The Pulp Magazine Archive

Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps"), also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long. Pulps were printed on cheap paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

The name pulp comes from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. Magazines printed on better paper were called "glossies" or "slicks." In their first decades, they were most often priced at ten cents per magazine, while competing slicks were 25 cents apiece. Pulps were the successor to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines are best remembered for their lurid and exploitative stories and sensational cover art. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of "hero pulps"; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom Detective.

The first "pulp" was Frank Munsey's revamped Argosy Magazine of 1896, about 135,000 words (192 pages) per issue on pulp paper with untrimmed edges and no illustrations, not even on the cover. While the steam-powered printing press had been in widespread use for some time, enabling the boom in dime novels, prior to Munsey, no one had combined cheap printing, cheap paper and cheap authors in a package that provided affordable entertainment to working-class people. In six years Argosy went from a few thousand copies per month to over half a million.

Street & Smith were next on the market. A dime novel and boys' weekly publisher, they saw Argosy's success, and in 1903 launched The Popular Magazine, billed as the "biggest magazine in the world" by virtue of being two pages longer than Argosy. Due to differences in page layout, the magazine had substantially less text than Argosy. The Popular Magazine introduced color covers to pulp publishing. The magazine began to take off when, in 1905, the publishers acquired the rights to serialize Ayesha, by H. Rider Haggard, a sequel to his popular novel She. Haggard's Lost World genre influenced several key pulp writers, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy and Abraham Merritt. In 1907, the cover price rose to 15 cents and 30 pages were added to each issue; along with establishing a stable of authors for each magazine, this change proved successful and circulation began to approach that of Argosy. Street and Smith's next innovation was the introduction of specialized genre pulps, each magazine focusing on a genre such as detective stories, romance, etc.

At their peak of popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, the most successful pulps could sell up to one million copies per issue. The most successful pulp magazines were Argosy, Adventure, Blue Book and Short Stories described by some pulp historians as "The Big Four". Among the best-known other titles of this period were Amazing Stories, Black Mask, Dime Detective, Flying Aces, Horror Stories, Love Story Magazine, Marvel Tales, Oriental Stories, Planet Stories, Spicy Detective, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Unknown, Weird Tales and Western Story Magazine. Although pulp magazines were primarily a US phenomenon, there were also a number of British pulp magazines published between the Edwardian era and World War Two. Notable UK pulps included Pall Mall Magazine, The Novel Magazine, Cassell's Magazine, The Story-Teller, The Sovereign Magazine, Hutchinson's Adventure-Story and Hutchinson's Mystery-Story. The German fantasy magazine Der Orchideengarten had a similar format to American pulp magazines, in that it was printed on rough pulp paper and heavily illustrated.

The Second World War paper shortages had a serious impact on pulp production, starting a steady rise in costs and the decline of the pulps. Beginning with Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1941, pulp magazines began to switch to digest size; smaller, thicker magazines. In 1949, Street & Smith closed most of their pulp magazines in order to move upmarket and produce slicks.[8] The pulp format declined from rising expenses, but even more due to the heavy competition from comic books, television, and the paperback novel. In a more affluent post-war America, the price gap compared to slick magazines was far less significant. In the 1950s, Men's adventure magazines began to replace the pulp.

The 1957 liquidation of the American News Company, then the primary distributor of pulp magazines, has sometimes been taken as marking the end of the "pulp era"; by that date, many of the famous pulps of the previous generation, including Black Mask, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Weird Tales, were defunct. Almost all of the few remaining pulp magazines are science fiction or mystery magazines now in formats similar to "digest size", such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The format is still in use for some lengthy serials, like the German science fiction weekly Perry Rhodan.

Over the course of their evolution, there were a huge number of pulp magazine titles; Harry Steeger of Popular Publications claimed that his company alone had published over 300, and at their peak they were publishing 42 titles per month. Many titles of course survived only briefly. While the most popular titles were monthly, many were bimonthly and some were quarterly. The collapse of the pulp industry changed the landscape of publishing because pulps were the single largest sales outlet for short stories. Combined with the decrease in slick magazine fiction markets, writers attempting to support themselves by creating fiction switched to novels and book-length anthologies of shorter pieces.

Pulp covers were printed in color on higher-quality (slick) paper. They were famous for their half-dressed damsels in distress, usually awaiting a rescuing hero. Cover art played a major part in the marketing of pulp magazines. The early pulp magazines could boast covers by some distinguished American artists; The Popular Magazine had covers by N.C. Wyeth, and Edgar Franklin Wittmack contributed cover art to Argosy and Short Stories. Later, many artists specialized in creating covers mainly for the pulps; a number of the most successful cover artists became as popular as the authors featured on the interior pages. Among the most famous pulp artists were Walter Baumhofer, Earle K. Bergey, Margaret Brundage, Edd Cartier, Virgil Finlay, Earl Mayan, Frank R. Paul, Norman Saunders, Nick Eggenhofer, (who specialized in Western illustrations), Rudolph Belarski and Sidney Riesenberg. Covers were important enough to sales that sometimes they would be designed first; authors would then be shown the cover art and asked to write a story to match.

Later pulps began to feature interior illustrations, depicting elements of the stories. The drawings were printed in black ink on the same cream-colored paper used for the text, and had to use specific techniques to avoid blotting on the coarse texture of the cheap pulp. Thus, fine lines and heavy detail were usually not an option. Shading was by crosshatching or pointillism, and even that had to be limited and coarse. Usually the art was black lines on the paper's background, but Finlay and a few others did some work that was primarily white lines against large dark areas.

Another way pulps kept costs down was by paying authors less than other markets; thus many eminent authors started out in the pulps before they were successful enough to sell to better-paying markets, and similarly, well-known authors whose careers were slumping or who wanted a few quick dollars could bolster their income with sales to pulps. Additionally, some of the earlier pulps solicited stories from amateurs who were quite happy to see their words in print and could thus be paid token amounts. There were also career pulp writers, capable of turning out huge amounts of prose on a steady basis, often with the aid of dictation to stenographers, machines or typists. Before he became a novelist, Upton Sinclair was turning out at least 8,000 words per day seven days a week for the pulps, keeping two stenographers fully employed. Pulps would often have their authors use multiple pen names so that they could use multiple stories by the same person in one issue, or use a given author's stories in three or more successive issues, while still appearing to have varied content. One advantage pulps provided to authors was that they paid upon acceptance for material instead of on publication; since a story might be accepted months or even years before publication, to a working writer this was a crucial difference in cash flow.

Some pulp editors became known for cultivating good fiction and interesting features in their magazines. Preeminent pulp magazine editors included Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (Adventure), Robert H. Davis (All-Story Weekly), Harry E. Maule (Short Stories) Donald Kennicott (Blue Book), Joseph T. Shaw (Black Mask), Farnsworth Wright (Weird Tales, Oriental Stories), John W. Campbell (Astounding Science Fiction,Unknown) and Daisy Bacon (Love Story Magazine, Detective Story Magazine).

Description of this collection from Wikipedia.

Many issues of this collection come from a variety of anonymous contributors, as well as sites such as The Pulp Magazines Project and ThePulp.net.

13
RESULTS
rss


PART OF
Additional Collections
Media Type
13
texts
Year
13
1968
53
2018
5
2017
1
2016
1
2014
2
2013
2
2007
More right-solid
Topics & Subjects
10
science fiction
4
grimes
3
alien
2
andy quam
2
beta hydri
2
boardman
More right-solid
Collection
More right-solid
Creator
4
galaxy publishing corporation
Language
13
English
SHOW DETAILS
up-solid down-solid
eye
Title
Date Published
Creator
IF Magazine
texts
eye 2,340
favorite 2
comment 0
(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Bulge by Jack Gaughan The Elf in the Starship Enterprise by Virgil Finlay Flesh and the Iron by Todd Star Itch by Dan Adkins Love Conquers All by Joe Wehrle, Jr. Dreambird by Brand Essays: More Bubbles for Your Bier by Frederik Pohl If ... And When (If, September 1968) by Lester del Rey Sf Calendar (If, September 1968) by uncredited Hue and Cry (If, September 1968) by Frederik Pohl Novelettes: Bulge by Hal...
Topics: sloane, bannock, marigold, hoerwitz, implant, alien, flesh, olga, earth, star itch, newt brown,...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 2,099
favorite 2
comment 0
(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Rogue Star (Part 1 of 3) by Jack Gaughan The Guerrilla Trees by Jeff Jones Cage of Brass by Jack Gaughan The Mother Ship by Joe Wehrle, Jr. House of Ancestors by Brand Publish and Perish by Brock The Bird-Brained Navigator by Vaughn Bodé Essays: Tomorrows to Order by Frederik Pohl What Would You Do About Vietnam? by uncredited Sf Calendar (If, June 1968) by uncredited Hue and Cry (If, June 1968) by uncredited...
Topics: grimes, gleason, rogue, quamodian, molly, missenden, hawk, joe, tillie, andy quam, rogue star,...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,999
favorite 0
comment 0
The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Computer Conspiracy (Part 1 of 2) by Jack Gaughan Creatures of Light by P. Reiber Now That Man Is Gone by uncredited The Perfect Secretary by Wallace Wood Essays: More Dooms by Frederik Pohl If ... And When (If, November 1968) by Lester del Rey Hue and Cry (If, November 1968) by Frederik Pohl Letter (If,...
Topics: zack, paul, kosloff, castriota, hin, willis, martino, wakim, anubis, paul kosloff, zack castriota,...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,955
favorite 1
comment 0
The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: High Weir by Jack Gaughan Deathchild by Virgil Finlay The Proxy Intelligence (Condensed) by Jack Gaughan Or Battle's Sound by Dan Adkins Pupa Knows Best by R. Brand Essays: Packaging People by Frederik Pohl Report On Japanese Science Fiction by Takumi Shibano If ... And When (If, October 1968) by Lester del...
Topics: hanardy, hardwick, dom, dreegh, madro, rimkin, dreeghs, ungarn, professor, science fiction, proxy...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,951
favorite 2
comment 0
(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Man in the Maze (Part 1 of 2) by Jack Gaughan The Rim Gods by Gray Morrow The Product of the Masses by Vaughn Bodé Slowboat Cargo (Part 3 of 3) by Dan Adkins Essays: For a Festival of Science Fiction by Frederik Pohl Meanwhile, Back at the Worldcon .... by Lin Carter Sf Calendar (If, April 1968) by uncredited Hue and Cry (If, April 1968) by Frederik Pohl Novelettes: The Rim Gods by A. Bertram Chandler The...
Topics: boardman, muller, matt, rawlins, maze, grimes, parlette, zone, pietro, jesus pietro, slowboat...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,907
favorite 1
comment 0
(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Getting Through University by Vaughn Bodé In Another Land by Brock Last Dreamer by Dan Adkins Merlin Planet by Joe Wehrle, Jr. Song of the Blue Baboon by Brock What the Old Aliens Left by Brand West Is West by Joe Wehrle, Jr. Rogue Star (Part 3 of 3) by Jack Gaughan Essays: Guest Editorial: Whaddya Read? by H. L. Gold If ... And When (If, August 1968) by Lester del Rey Hue and Cry (If, August 1968) by...
Topics: rogue, molly, savill, grimes, dillingham, planet, jerrold, quamodian, quam, andy quam, rogue star,...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,845
favorite 1
comment 0
(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Slowboat Cargo (Part 1 of 3) by Dan Adkins The Petrified World by uncredited Star Bike by Jack Gaughan The Selchey Kids by Jack Gaughan All Judgment Fled (Part 3 of 3) by Gray Morrow Essays: The Day We Launched the Moonship by Frederik Pohl Sf Calendar (If, February 1968) by uncredited Hue and Cry (If, February 1968) by Frederik Pohl Novelette: The Selchey Kids by Laurence Yep Serials: Slowboat Cargo (Part 1...
Topics: mccullough, matt, pietro, lanigan, alien, twos, crew, hollis, berryman, jesus pietro, judgment...
IF Magazine
texts
eye 1,801
favorite 1
comment 0
(Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Peacemakers by Virgil Finlay From Distant Earth by Gray Morrow The Taste of Money by Jack Gaughan Rogue's Gambit by Jack Gaughan Starsong by Jack Gaughan All Judgment Fled (Part 2 of 3) by Gray Morrow He That Moves by Jack Gaughan Essays: On Doing Better by Frederik Pohl Foreign Fandom by Lin Carter Interstellar Travel and Eternal Life by R. C. W. Ettinger Hue and Cry (If, January 1968) by uncredited...
Topics: mccullough, skroot, stannard, alien, fletcher, bugasz, ship, usher, hollis, judgment fled, science...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
texts
eye 1,269
favorite 2
comment 0
Note: The Guest Editorial "Limiting Factor" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Where the Subbs Go by Jeff Jones Dismal Light by Brock Cenotaph by Eddie Jones The Creatures of Man by Joe Wehrle, Jr. The Man in the Maze (Part 2 of 2) by Jack Gaughan Essays: Guest Editorial: Limiting Factor by Poul Anderson New Currents in Fandom by Lin...
Topics: muller, raise, rawlins, boardman, eje, sunner, maze, beam, subbs, nat glover, dismal light, lee...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
texts
eye 1,180
favorite 0
comment 0
Note: The story "Worlds to Kill" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Sunbeam Caress by Virgil Finlay Sunbeam Caress [2] by Virgil Finlay Worlds to Kill by Jack Gaughan Caterpillar Express by Vaughn Bodé Squatter's Rights by Jack Gaughan Slowboat Cargo (Part 2 of 3) by Dan Adkins Essays: What Science Fiction Is by Frederik Pohl Sf Calendar (If, March...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
texts
eye 1,171
favorite 2
comment 0
Note: The story "The Pawob Division" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Holmes-Ginsbook Device by Jack Gaughan The Starman of Pritchard's Creek by Wallace Wood The Tin Fishes by Virgil Finlay The Computer Conspiracy (Part 2 of 2) by Jack...
Topics: paul, grimes, kosloff, georg, castriota, data, mai, widder, professor, paul kosloff, young widder,...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
texts
eye 1,095
favorite 0
comment 1
Note: The story "The Sleeper with Still Hands" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Sleeper with Still Hands by Jack Gaughan We Fused Ones by Vaughn Bodé Gone to the Graveyards, Everyone by Joe Wehrle, Jr. The Muschine by Roger Brand The Soft...
( 1 reviews )
The Pulp Magazine Archive
texts
eye 774
favorite 1
comment 0
Topics: wallace, san, diego, fluoridation, paulson, festival, folk, teaspoon, san diego, tijuana, aztec...